Camerato: Can't expect Pierce to win games on his own


Camerato: Can't expect Pierce to win games on his own

BOSTON -- There was a time when 30 points a game wasn't out of the ordinary for Paul Pierce.

It wasn't unusual to see the Boston Celtics captain lead the way on offense while his teammates trailed behind him on the box score. That was also during a period when the Celtics were struggling to find wins and Pierce was forced to carry the load himself.

Things have changed since the establishment of the "New Big Three" in 2007. Scoring has been distributed among other star players and even when Pierce had a big night, it was often in conjunction with a solid team effort.

Pierce cannot be expected to do it alone. Is he capable of putting the team on his shoulders? Yes. Is that the most effective way for the Celtics to win consistently? No.

On Wednesday Pierce posted a near-flawless 43-point performance (13-16 FG, 6-7 3PG, 8-8 FT) in the Celtics win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Two days later, his 35 points (13-23 FG, 3-7 3PG, 6-8 FT) were not enough to push the Celtics past the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime.

"Its a team game, regardless of how I play," said Pierce. "Weve got to do better in stretches.I think when our offense isnt going for long stretches ,weve got to be able to defend. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, we went into the quarter up like seven or eight and we instantly kind of gave away the lead.Thats the kind of case where even though our shots arent falling, weve got to be able to come down and get stops after stops after stops. It just comes and goes in stretches right now.

Pierce played 43 minutes in the Celtics overtime loss to the Bucks. At 35 years old, head coach Doc Rivers wants to manage his veteran captain's minutes. At the same time, it is hard to do when he is one of the only players making shots.

"Because of the overtime he played more minutes, but hes the only one that really had it going," said Rivers. "I always jokingly and its the truth say its a make-miss league and tonight was evident of that. We had point-blank looks at the rim all through the game and one of the best shooters in the NBA in JET (Jason Terry) and Kevin (Garnett). We got them great shots, just couldnt make them. I thought as the game went on you know you press more and more to make them and we just couldnt.It was one of those games."

Other members of the Celtics will get going offensively -- the team has too much talent to rely on one player. But when the Cs are struggling to find their way to the basket, they know they still have a tried and true option they can turn to. They just don't plan on making a habit out of it.

"When everybodys not making shots youre down, youre looking for whoever is making shots," said Rivers. "They didnt come in the game trying to miss or not ready, just the ball wouldnt go in.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

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